“Proper Bible reading begins before we open the book.” That is how Tony Reinke begins his blog post on “4 Things to Remember When Reading the Bible.” The material is adapted from his book, Newton on the Christian Life.
In a pair of sermons “On Searching the Scriptures,” pastor and hymn-writer John Newton explains how four elements should inform our approach to the Bible. The first is sincerity. We should “submit both our sentiments and our practices to be controlled and directed by what we read there.” We should read God’s Word in order to learn His will for our lives and to live our lives according to His will.
A second element is diligence. We are to be like miners who search the Scriptures in order to mine its truth. We should engage in frequent reading as well as meditation on God’s Word. By applying these first two principles, we will avoid wasting our lives.
“Third, we must approach the Bible with humility.” We go to God’s Word for it to instruct us. We should be students willing to learn what God will teach us. Reverence and humility before God’s Word are necessary foundations for us to learn and then apply the eternal truth found within it.
Fourth, we should approach the Bible in prayer. We should have sincerity, diligence, and humility. But prayer is also another important element in how we approach God’s Word. One of John Newton’s hymns captures this spirit of prayer: “Thou art coming to a King, Large petitions with thee bring; For his grace and power are such, None can ever ask too much.”
Tony Reinke reminds us in his blog and book that we can learn many valuable lessons from Christians (like John Newton) who learned from God’s Word in the past and lived a life that we should emulate. We should read the Bible with sincerity, diligence, humility, and prayer.